Obsolete Technology: ICSA?

Here’s all I can tell you: I found this in a file labeled “ICSA” and I’m wondering if it was misfiled. Is this really computer equipment? They look more like top loading washing machines:

New ICSA 2

Bonus: I got an email the other day from a loyal reader in Rice’s Research Computing Support Group alerting me to something wonderful. Check out this post from the Group’s blog. The only thing I understand is the history of the name.

Extra Bonus: Loyal reader John Wolda took these pictures of Reckling Park in the rain during this summer’s baseball camp. For those of you who don’t live in Houston, this is what all spring and summer have been like. Winter too, now that I think about it.




This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Obsolete Technology: ICSA?

  1. almadenmike says:

    They’re hard disk drives … with user-removable disk packs.

  2. Francis Eugene "Gene" PRATT, Institute Class of '56 says:

    RE: the Bonus
    John Wolda is so old he remembers, “Spahn and Sain and pray for rain’ !

  3. Mark Williamson says:

    The two banks of five in the front are removable-media disk drives. (IBM 3330, I think.) I see some familiar labels: APPLIB (application programs), PAGEP1 (paging volume for virtual memory), PRIV03 (private storage for some user account).

    As almadenmike said, they were “user-removable” according to IBM, but “user” in most cases meant a professional computer operator (as opposed to an IBM Field Engineer).

    The two banks in the back are fixed-media disk drives. IBM 3350, I think,

  4. Mark Williamson says:

    I commented before I saw the first bonus. I’m amazed that the “NOTS” name has been revived after all this time!

  5. effegee says:

    Yes, this is definitely a photo taken when I.C.S.A. was in the basement of Herman Brown Hall — looking north across the main computer room. The door to what was originally a store room for supplies and tapes is visible in the background. For reference, the “fish bowl” windows that appeared in some of the earlier photos that you have posted from this era would parallel the row of machines to the right at slightly more than the distance between the male in the picture and the door to the “store room”. By time of this photo — roughly 1980-82 — I believe the tape drives that we have discussed before have been relocated into the store room with the tapes by cutting holes in the hollow concrete floor of the store room to connect power and signal cables.

    There are two kinds of disk drives in the picture. In the foreground, each drive had 100 megabyte capacity in a removable media pack. The operators are changing the media in some of the drives. Toward the back, the drives are higher capacity but not removable. They came in two sizes: just over 300 megabytes and double that. These latter drives were truly like “hard drives” — just a LOT larger in size and smaller in capacity. I believe the removables were manufactured by National Semiconductor to mimic the IBM 3330 drives that we have discussed earlier and the “hard drives” were manufactured by Hitachi to mimic a double density IBM 3350.

    The female operator in the front was Patricia Nichols; the male Jay Campbell. I do not recognize the female in the back.

    • Matt Noall says:

      Thanks for providing the capacity information. I was wondering what they where. As usual with computer tech, those were pretty high-tech for their era. More capacity in your iPod now….

  6. Bob Toone says:

    Those are removable disk storage devices. Each device consists of about ten platters and typically data was written and read on both platter surfaces. A read/write head for each platter moved across just above the platter surface. I’m familiar with the IBM version of these devices, but can’t tell what brand these are.

    Bob Toone WRC ’67


  7. marmer01 says:

    Yes, I remember terminal time budgets and NOTS. If I recall those were still a thing in the early days of the Mudd Building.

  8. OMG, ICSA

  9. rbrazile says:

    Marty’s right, continued into the early years of the Mudd building.

  10. Shala Howell says:

    According to my father who worked with dinosaur computer tech for much of his career, your Top Loading Washing Machines look very much like a non-IBM version of IBM’s 2311 Disk Drives, one of the earliest random access storage devices. One of the companies he worked for, Security Mutual, had them back in 1973 or so. But then Security Mutual was well behind the technology curve, even for a dinosaur computer tech guy.

Leave a Reply to marmer01Cancel reply